Exactly how many holes exist in the Orioles’ 25-man roster as they get closer to their report date for spring training?
The calculation involves math, but I’m willing to move outside my comfort zone.
The Orioles have two confirmed starters in Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy. The bullpen should include Brad Brach, Darren O’Day, Mychal Givens and Richard Bleier. Miguel Castro will be in the rotation or continue in his relief role.
Trey Mancini and Adam Jones will compose two-thirds of the outfield. If Manny Machado isn’t traded, he’s going to join Tim Beckham, Jonathan Schoop and Chris Davis in the infield. Mark Trumbo projects as the regular designated hitter and occasional right fielder. The Orioles, like everyone else, will carry two catchers.
A Rule 5 pitcher could head north, with left-hander Nestor Cortes Jr. the early favorite. But “could” doesn’t entitle anyone to make the confirmed list.
Outfielder Anthony Santander will try to stick for the first 44 days, at least, but manager Buck Showalter isn’t going to hand him a spot if not earned.
I’m counting 14 names that should be on the opening day roster, though the second catcher with Caleb Joseph needs to be identified. I’m cheating a little here. We can say, for the sake of argument, that it’s Chance Sisco or Austin Wynns until a veteran is signed or acquired in a trade and turns it into a three-man fight.
Castro has one more minor league option, but he’s likely to stay in some capacity. I’m including him based on the assumption that he’d have to pitch horribly or sustain an injury to be a camp cut.
Donnie Hart could make it as an extra left-hander in the bullpen. Joey Rickard and Austin Hays could make it as spare outfielders, with no defined starter in right. Mike Wright and Gabriel Ynoa are out of options and could be tossed into the starter competition and moved to the bullpen if unsuccessful. They’re also possibilities to be traded rather than exposed to waivers.
I’m not able to put them on a January list.
I can’t pinpoint a utility player from a collection of possibilities that includes Rubén Tejada, Luis Sardiñas and Erick Salcedo. It could become Beckham. The only certainty here is someone with an expanded set of tools needs to come off the bench.
* I asked left-hander Tanner Scott about Wynns last week before wrapping up our minicamp interview at his locker.
“He’s a great guy,” Scott said. “I lived with him in Arizona in 2016. I was roommates with him and (Jimmy) Yacabonis. He’s a great guy, great catcher and I’m going to be happy to see him in spring training.
“Winnie’s a great defender and anyone that throws to him loves throwing to him, because he’s going to put his body on the line and block everything for you. Nothing gets behind him and runners can’t advance.”
* Givens is 16-3 in the past two seasons, the most wins for any reliever in baseball over that span, according to STATS Inc. He’s 18-3 in 157 games. He’s earned the nickname “Vulture.”
The subject came up during last week’s “Orioles Hot Stove Show” on 105.7 The Fan.
“I take it as a compliment because me and Brad the last few years have a lot of wins,” Givens said. “When we get in that situation, Buck trusts us to hold down the game or keep the lead.”
Brach has 14 wins in the last two years, tied for second in the majors.
“I can’t be more blessed to be around a great bullpen,” Givens said. “With their experience and their knowledge, take that confidence and ability and just go out there and compete. We’re athletic and we’re a great, established bullpen that allows us to be in those situations.”
Scott appeared in only two games with the Orioles after they selected his contract in September, but he noted the benefits of being in a major league environment with relievers who could double as mentors.
“Just watching the game, seeing how it’s played,” he said. “Every level it gets faster and faster and you watch guys that have been up there take their time and get through jams. It was a really good experience and I learned a lot. I talked to Zach (Britton), I talked to Givens and all the guys are good. It was really good.”
* Congratulations to Joseph and wife Brooke on the birth of daughter Nora Ellington, who arrived on Saturday weighing 7 lbs., 14 oz. and measuring 21 inches.
Joseph says her long hands and fingers are ideal for gripping a two-seam fastball. Good to know, with all these openings on the pitching staff.
Photo courtesy Joseph family